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A Conversation with Deniz Taşar

Blog
A Conversation with Deniz Taşar

24.09.2020

“Seek your own voice, spend time with yourself and your instrument”:
A conversation with Deniz Taşar

This year, Akbank Jazz Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary. And the applications for JAmZZ Akbank Jazz Festival Young Talents Competition, which is organized by the festival, is open until September 30. The competition offers a platform where young talents from jazz scene can come together with Turkey’s leading jazz artists for jam sessions. Deniz Taşar, one of the most characteristic vocals from Turkey’s new generation jazz scene, won the “Best Cover” award in 2013’s competition. We have heard that she has completed recording her new album recently. She also took the stage at Kitap Koala on March 8, 2020, for Jazz In the Living Room performance series, a sub-series of Akbank Jazz Festival’s Yearlong Jazz concerts. Taşar answered our questions about her relationship with the stage, the place of JAmZZ Akbank Jazz Festival Young Talents Competition in her career, and what to expect from the upcoming album.

Interview: Ekin Sanaç
Translated: Yetkin Nural

When you recall the moment when you stepped on the stage for the first time, what feelings, impressions or memories come back to you?

When you say ‘first time one stage’; two completely different, yet also complementary moments and feelings come back to me. First, there was the feeling of nausea and nervousness that almost made me faint. Then there was the first step of courage, walking towards the stage, trembling and with a blurry vision… Second is the moment when stage lights hit my face, the feeling of peace and belonging as the audience fade back into the darkness. There is also a very vivid memory. During a theatre play, I was on the stage and I remember telling myself: “This feels like home and I never want to leave the stage”. I am really lucky that life has given me this chance. I have always been a bit shy, and I still wonder how I managed to come out of my shell back then. I owe a lot to that young girl.  

In 2013, you won JAmZZ Akbank Jazz Festival Young Talents Competititon’s “Best Cover" award. Can you tell us a bit about what this award means for your story and career?

2013 is a critical year that marks the beginning of my professional relationship with jazz. Since I was 15 years old, I have always been interested with performance arts, but I haven’t really considered making a career out of this interest until 2013. I don’t believe in art competitions but coming back with a lovely award from this organization, where I took part to meet new audiences gave me great morale and transformed into an experience that solidified the place of music in me. The process of the competition was pleasant and nourishing, and the jazz workshop I was sent to the following year was an amazing experience. My career path started with New York based jazz vocalist Amy London’s masterclasses in Italy, Venice Jazz Festival stages, jam sessions and conversations I shared with music students from all around the world. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Akbank Jazz Festival is celebrating its 30th year, and JAmZZ Young Talents Competition has set off to meet with new voices. What would you like to share with young generation who are determined to forge their path in jazz scene?

I would tell them that they shouldn’t lose any time to dive into the jazz world if that is their passion. JAmZZ is a great opportunity to do that. Every music you listen to, every concert you watch, every conversation with musicians, who will nourish you with their own experiences, is going to expand your horizons. You have fallen in love with something that you will be a lifelong student of. Work hard, meet with people, learn to be brave and confident, as well as observant and humble. Seek your own voice and spend time with yourself and your instrument to reach the maturity to find it. At least, this is what I try to do. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to discover who we are, what we want to do and how to do it; and this requires time. 

As far as we know, you have completed recording your new album. It has been five years since your debut mini-album, Uykuda Bir Bulut. How can we trace the influences of these five years in the new album? Can you tell us about the album’s core motivations and directives?

Right after I recorded Uykuda Bir Bulut, I started working on new songs. I was playing some of those and saving others. Five years is not a short time. A person changes a lot. Especially in these critical years, I feel like I grow every month. During this time, my life, my approach to music, what I listen to and what I want to create have changed a lot. In the meantime, there have been some singles and other projects; I kept on trying, creating, writing. And in this upcoming album, I shared some of the feelings that left a mark with me in these past five years. This album’s perspective, its production process and the sound we tried to come up with is very different from the first album. Lyrics are in the foreground; our music has expanded and became less definitive. We also came up with some heavy hitting songs. I am hoping that this album is going to pick us up from where our single from last year,“Onu Ona Ona Onu” left off; and introduce you to some of my troubles, words and ideas. I didn’t want to diverge into too many ideas, so I stuck to a clear narration with seven songs, which we enriched with featuring musicians. In short, the end product is an album that conveys my last five years from today’s perspective, with a sincere tone and musical explorations that really excites me. I hope you will enjoy it.

Is the album’s release date set? Do you have any visual companions or special plans for the launch?

I cannot say that our release schedule is set, I hesitate a bit to be honest. When we come across new adventures and challenges every day, sometimes it becomes hard to see ahead. My wish is to release it before the end of this year. I also would like to introduce our visual world with the video of “Uzaktan”, our latest single from the upcoming album. I have collected its visuals for years now and we didn’t have a chance to share it because of the pandemic. And the rest is going to be a surprise.

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